The trip to an area Dick's Sporting Goods store was not without it's usual frustrations. As usual, it was impossible to find an employee to help and I was getting more frustrated by the fact that I had left my purse in the car so I was juggling my wallet and a flyer full of coupons somewhat unsuccessfully. But I had to stick it out because for me, Christmas decorating starts at the sporting good store.
And I had some decorating to do this weekend.
My parents always hang a huge wreath over their fireplace (in fact there is a rather adorable photo of me as an 11-month old baby with my brother gazing at our stockings in front of that fireplace with the wreath hanging over it) so when we bought a house with a huge stone fireplace, I knew I would hang a wreath there. But there is some engineering involved in this, especially since you don't want to put any sort of hanger in the masonry.
We have a wood beam sort of built into the exterior wall, so several years ago we put an eye screw in the top of it on either side of the fireplace. Then I string fishing line between the two screws and hang the wreath on the line. I've tweaked this system over the years but I might have perfected it this year. In the past I've used 60-pound monofilament fishing line, but since the hardware store had no high-test line, I had to run to the sporting goods store. And there I found that fishing line has changed. Now there is braided line that feels more like string than plastic. There are two problems with monofilament line: it is very hard to tie knots in and it stretches a lot. But the new line is super low stretch and since it feels like string, there's no problem tying knots in it.
The arrows point to the beams built into the wall where we put eye screws and then run fishing line between them to hang the wreath.
Which is why I spent a good 20 minutes (without help from an employee, thank you very much) in the fishing line aisle. The 80-pound braided fishing line I got wasn't cheap, at all, but I got 300 yards which should last me about 10 years if I don't lose it.
With the string strung, it was back to the wreath. There are some beautifully decorated wreaths out there and I always strive to make one, but I'm always a little hesitant to go too far out of my comfort zone so I end up doing something a lot like what I've done in the past. But I'm OK with that. The holidays are one of those times when I'm OK with the same time over and over again for the sake of tradition.
I start with a 36-inch wreath that is pretty basic. You know the one: red bow, white pinecones, lots of balsam.
Then I strip it down (I spread out a bed sheet to keep the mess under control). I save the bow for something else (often at the end of the driveway or outside somewhere).
The next step is to lay out all the extras I'll be adding to get a feel for where they go. I don't attach them at this point, just get a feel for what is going where. When I took off the pinecones, one area had a bit of a hole in it so I decided to put the ribbon there.
I like a very full wreath and I like them to be a bit wild and shaggy, with lots of texture. But wreaths like that are very expensive. So I bought a pretty basic wreath made mostly of balsam and a little bit of white pine and then bought extra greens to add to it. It's really easy to add greens to a wreath. I just stick them in between the stems and if need be, throw on a wrap of floral wire (I'd be lost without floral wire for holiday decorating). With the greens added, I attach all ornaments, which also helps to keep some of the greens in place. It's not like this wreath is hanging on a door that will be swinging back and forth. It goes up on the fireplace and stays there until it comes down.
With all the ornaments added, I double checked the greens and filled in a few spots and then added the bow. I usually just do the red bow but I felt like it was a little small in scale (and I was out of ribbon) so I added a stiffer white jute ribbon (which has a little fleck of gold running through it).
Here's where my next little secret comes in. I use a carbiner to hang it. You know, the things that are really for rock climbing but now people use them on their keyring? I found a nice small one that was actually called an S-biner, with opening clips on each side and this is a wonderful little gadget, at least for hanging wreaths. I clip one side on the wire frame of the wreath and then just slip the other side over the pre-strung fishing line. This allows me to slide it side to side to get it centered properly.
And there you go. One wreath finished. Now … onto that tree. Bet Dick's doesn't have anything to help with that.